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Alcohol and PTAs Shouldn't Mix

January 03, 1999

* My child attends Village View Elementary School in Huntington Beach, where the PTA has recently voted to sponsor a "casino night" at which alcohol will be served.

I was surprised this could happen in a public school since the PTA Insurance and Loss Prevention Guidebook states that alcohol is prohibited at public school functions and fund-raisers.

I am concerned that this issue was voted on and approved without first notifying Village View parents. The PTA at Village View voted quickly, without considering the controversy surrounding the issue.

Some parents have expressed their concerns to school officials, Village View PTA board members and the California PTA, to no avail.

Having alcohol at a school fund-raiser raises many questions, including legal liability.

More importantly, however, I am concerned that this is in direct conflict with the Ocean View School District policy of zero tolerance of drugs and alcohol for students.

Why would a school or PTA allow alcohol at a fund-raiser when one of the school's jobs is to promote the DARE program?

I think we are sending a mixed message to our children: Do as I say, not as I do. Private parties can do as they wish on their own time, but school fund-raisers should follow school district and PTA guidelines even if they are off campus and after school hours, since they represent our children.

J. TETER-MITCHELL

Huntington Beach

* I recently attended a PTA meeting at Village View Elementary School, which my children have attended for eight years.

At this meeting an issue was raised as to whether the PTA would have a fund-raiser at which alcohol would be sold. At first I thought this was a rather benign issue, but as I sat there I was reminded of my now 11-year-old son, who, about three years ago, told me I should not be drinking alcohol because it was a drug.

He told me that he learned in school through the DARE program that alcohol was a controlled substance. He added with his childlike wisdom that I shouldn't have to use a drug to have a good time.

As a police officer for 17 years, I could probably write volumes on the evils of alcohol. I have seen it destroy property, lives, marriages and careers.

But that is not what is at issue here. At the meeting the alcohol advocates themselves admitted that alcohol is a legal risk, since the school might be held responsible if an alcohol-related injury or death were to occur at such a function.

They also admitted that they do not want their children at such a function. But the advocates insist that this will be an adults-only function, where alcohol is consumed responsibly.

What is at issue is the PTA itself and what it stands for. The PTA was established for the children, and it should be the policy of the PTA to consider the children in every decision they make.

I believe that we would do well to set our goals higher for our children in light of what we as adults know. Rather than teaching our children to drink responsibly, wouldn't it be better to teach them to be responsible adults that do not need alcohol to have a "sophisticated" evening?

DARREL AIRHART

Huntington Beach

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